When it comes to graduating, even some aspects of that achievement are quantifiable. Seniors may feel an inflated or deflated sense of worth depending on how many cords they wear as they walk across the stage. This leads students who are eligible to join honor societies to do so simply for the sake of getting the cord when they graduate, which seems inherently negative and self-interested. Yet as long as students join honor societies and partake in aiding the common good through the missions of these societies, the intentions matter less than the act of serving the community itself.
The cord serves as an incentive to partake in clubs that will enrich students. It is true that some students, especially second semester seniors, will do the bare minimum to get their points and their cord at graduation while caring little about the club. But for others, what started out as another honor society on the resume may turn into an activity that the student genuinely enjoys and wants to pursue.
It is not uncommon for seniors to discuss how they are ready to be done with high school. They may say they just want to get their point requirements and be done with it. “While I’ve definitely heard some students say that privately to their friends, I think the majority of most honor societies commit themselves because of the intrinsic rewards rather than material incentives,” said senior Kevin Yeung, co-president of Spanish Honor Society.
The National Honor Society (NHS) recently adopted a new program for members and nonmembers alike to gain another cord. Seniors who donated blood twice this year will receive a cord to wear at graduation. Because NHS only recently began this at the beginning of 2019, this policy will shift for the class of 2020, who will have to donate three times to receive a cord.
For senior Nicholas DiStefano, the Blood Drive coordinator for NHS, adding a cord incentive to donating blood benefits the community by encouraging more people to donate.
“Besides the satisfaction they get, they have something to show that they were giving back to their community,” DiStefano said. “Sometimes I do believe it is good to do it for the cord, in this specific case.”
There will always be students who will minimally participate in honor societies in order to reap the benefits. Yet many students who participate in activities that involve a cord reward end up contributing to the overall good of society. Mixed intentions in the beginning may yield results that benefit the community and in the process help students discover something they unexpectedly enjoy.